French newspapers after the 2016 US election.
I profess: I often find myself ill-equipped to defend my political beliefs. This is mostly because I get all my political news from “The Simpsons” and satirical reports; I argue my points by saying things like “because it’s not nice” or—once—by crying.. My dad had tried to teach me and my sister political philosophy when we were kids; he asked us, a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, “In a totalitarian society, would you rather be a master or a slave?” I answered, and when he asked “Why?” I promptly burst into tears.
We have now placed a misogynist, baseless, pink-faced racist in charge of our nation and I again find myself near tears. Questions which were once offered as philosophical brainfood reveal themselves as crucial and troubling realities. As I grow older, I close the distance between me and my bureaucratic rulers by shedding layers of legality. I am gaining rights as I inch forever closer to the administrative flame and I’ve learned that it isn’t always going to be Barack Obama and that it isn’t always going to feel safe or pleasant or nice. In fact, it will hurt this time.
When my home state Pennsylvania voted red, I wondered which of my neighbors and former teachers and classmates voted with the majority of the country that agreed to value fantastical extremes over basic human decency. Is your name in my yearbook? Were you at that potluck dinner in 2009? Was I at your ten-year-old birthday party, did you teach chemistry, did I lend you my bow resin at orchestra, did we wait for the after school bus together? My paranoia is now manifold.
It was 7 a.m. in Paris when I found out the president would be someone who wanted to harm those I love and care about. That morning, I think I gave up for a couple hours. I texted exclamation points and sad emojis to my parents. Then I made the decision to wear sweatpants to class.I didn’t send any emails or check the weather and when I felt rain pouring outside, I didn’t open my umbrella. I felt sad and I showed it—but this is not good. When your enemy gains undeniable power, defend yourself: take out your super rusty purple umbrella, don your poncho, your rainboots, build dams, give damns!
There is no more “we” or “our.” Whatever unity existed before was a mask of manners which this election has violently stripped away. This victory of the hateful, ignorant, predominately white voter is one I will not claim as my own. But Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, her steady tone and spine-chilling optimism—that is all mine to cherish. That, and a regressive and noxious next four years.Smiling through gritted teeth, I am horribly happy that I can feel this Faustian range of emotion. At least I now know where I stand.
–Audrey Deng, West 10th Copy Editor